The Lancashire Life Food and Wine Awards 2008
PUBLISHED: 00:03 23 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:37 20 February 2013
The Lancashire Life Food and Wine Awards 2008 was a glittering celebration of the region's culinary elite. Ray King reports
MORE glitz and glamour than ever! The Lancashire Life Food and Wine Awards brought together 200 of the leading lights from the hospitality industry in the North West.
The awards - staged in partnership with our sister titles Cheshire Life and Lake District Life - were an enthusiastic celebration of the region's culinary excellence,coming just days after a top guide hailed Lancashire food as the best in Britain.
For the second year running, the stunning City of Manchester Stadium
The event, staged in association with provided a fitting backdrop for the gala dinner and awards ceremony.Matthew Clark,wine suppliers to thousands of hotels and restaurants across Britain, is now firmly established as one of the most important in the region's social calendar.
The awards themselves are acknowledged throughout the industry as highly coveted accolades recognising ever-rising standards of quality and distinction.
Competition had been fierce across all 21 of the various awards categories, presenting the independent panel of judges who criss-crossed the North West and North Wales during spring and summer with the onerous task in deciding the ultimate winners.
But, as Archant Life's regional managing director Liz Page stressed during the ceremony, all the pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants - and newly added this year, Food Heroes - that made it through on to the highly commended shortlists deserve congratulations for their considerable achievements.
Guests gathered in the stadium's Mancunian Suite for a pre-dinner Piper Heidsieck Champagne reception before taking their places amid the splendour of the Boardroom at tables sumptuously decorated by RSVP Event Management.
The five course gourmet menu, created by the City of Manchester Stadium's Consultant Executive Chef John Benson-Smith, former Northern Chef of the Year and regular on Loyd Grossman's Masterchef, exemplified his characteristic skill and wit and demonstrated a master class in large-scale catering expertise.
Undaunted by the fact that the guests represented the region's catering elite, the kitchen brigade delivered animpressive and complex series of dishes with considerable aplomb. Chicken consomm, lifted by wild mushrooms and fresh truffles, was followed by a JBS signature.
His 'Bowl of Dinky Fish Bits' comprised chunks of red mullet,seabass and lobster luxuriating in a rich and flavoursome bisque with samphire and baby red chard.
The main course also sprang a surprise. Deliciously tender loin of Welsh Mountain Lamb arrived "en croute", though not baked in pastry but rolled bread and served alongside a whole baby pointy cabbage and a tremendous smoked potato souffl.
Dessert - 'Chocolate Jowl' - comprising a brandy snap basket of berry fruits, a bombe of iced rhubarb and ginger double cream and a generously proportioned chocolate marquise decorated with a chocolate lattice curl, preceded a platter of fine cheeses, coffee and petit fours.
Matthew Clark's selection of accompanying wines - all from the New World - was both ideally judged and very interesting: zesty Stonehaven Cellar Selection Riesling from Australia's Limestone Coast; honeyed Nobilo Pinot Gris from New Zealand's East Coast; complex and spicy Flagstone 'The Treaty Tree' Chef's Red Reserve from South Africa's Western Cape and sweet and velvety Hardy's Botrytis Semillon from South Eastern Australia.
The presentation of the awards by Hollyoaks actress Sarah Jane Buckley and news broadcaster Trevor Green was greeted by whoops of delight from recipients' tables.
Winners of the Readers' Choice accolades were particularly well received and this year's new awards for local Food Heroes who supply the very best of regional produce were greeted with enthusiasm. The climax of the evening's presentations was the Outstanding Achievement Award for an individual's outstanding contribution to the North West's burgeoning reputation with in the industry.
It went to the tireless champion of local produce, Nigel Haworth, not only an outstanding Michelin-starred chef at the Northcote Manor, Langho,
which he owns with Craig Bancroft, but also for demonstrating at the Three Fishes in Mitton, the Highwayman in Kirkby Lonsdale and the Clog and Billycock in Pleasington, that the great British pub can have a rosy future.
In the latest edition of the influential Harden's UK Restaurant Guide, Northcote is rated as offering the best food in Britain - eclipsing any restaurant in the London. Co-editor Richard Harden said: 'It will certainly come as a surprise to the capital's chefs to hear that reporters in our national survey find the very best restaurant food of all in the North West.'
Special thanks for a highly successful evening go to the City of Manchester Stadium, John Benson Smith and his team, sponsors Matthew Clark, presenters Sarah Jane Buckley and Trevor Green, RSVP Event Management, MCL, Vision Creative, Villeroy & Boch, Digital Ceramics and Special Occasions Table linen.
The roll of honour
North West Outstanding Achievement Award
Nigel Haworth, Northcote Manor, Langho
Restaurant of the Year
Greens Bistro, St Annes-on-Sea
Hotel of the Year
The Vincent, Southport
Food by Breda Murphy,Whalley
Newcomer of the Year
Clough Manor, Denshaw
Dewlay Cheese, Garstang
Lake District Restaurant of the Year
Rogan & Company, Cartmel
Lake District Hotel of the Year
Manchester Restaurant of the Year
Jem & I, Didsbury
Michael Caines Restaurant at Abode, City Centre
Liverpool Restaurant of the Year
Mayur, City Centre